BANGKOK — No one will be allowed to gather at the site of a former plaque commemorating the 1932 revolt which ended absolute monarchy next week, police said Thursday.
The anniversary of the June 24 event, usually quietly marked by a small gathering, is forbidden this year, three months after the decades-old marker was dug out of the road and replaced with one praising the monarchy.
Deputy metro police chief Maj. Gen. Panurat Lakboon said he’s instructed officers to keep a close watch on the the spot at the Royal Plaza where the plaque was removed under secret conditions in April.
A pro-democracy activist warned that banning what otherwise would have been an unremarkable event will only raise the public’s awareness of the importance of the revolt which ushered in a democratic system.
Panurat said Thailand’s need for unity and mourning for the late king made it inappropriate to commemorate the revolt this June 24. He also said the Royal Plaza, where the plaque sat mostly ignored for decades, should be kept free of politics because of its association with the monarchy.
He said police would monitor social media to see if some anyone tries to rally people to assemble there on the 85th anniversary of the bloodless uprising. Joggers will be allowed, he added.
Academic discussions of the topic will be allowed that day at universities, Panurat said..
Pro-democracy activist Kittithat Sumalnop, aka “Champ 1984,” said he has joined the annual commemoration there at least three times in the past, including last year.
“It’s nonsense. You cannot make people forget. How long do you think you can remain in power?” the 34-year-old activist said, addressing the leaders of the junta in power since 2014. “If they can’t go on June 24, they will visit on June 25. The more you try to make them forget, the more it generates [memorobilia] such as T-shirts and keychains.”
Asked whether he will go there on June 24 despite the ban, Sumalnop said he doesn’t want to get arrested but would make a final decision later.